What temperature and time of day do snakes come out of hiding?

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Rattlesnakes, like all reptiles, cannot regulate their own body temperature, so they are less active during cool times than during warm ones. They can come out at any time, day or night, if it's warm enough for them to be active. Generally, they tend to stay in when it's much below 50 degrees F, and the cooler it gets the harder they are to find out. They are unable to be active in very cold temperatures and can easily freeze to death if they are not protected by a hole or other shelter. In very hot weather (say, over 100 degrees F), they can easily overheat and die if they cannot find a cool place (such as a shaded rock or bush). This is called behavioral thermoregulation: the snake can't internally moderate its body temperature, but it selects sites that will help it do so externally. Rattlesnakes and all the other pit vipers depend on finding their prey by a sort of heat radar (mammals tend to be warmer than their air around them except in very hot weather). Since they primarily ... more
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